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Storage Spaces Direct ideal in cloud environment

By Roger Mitan

Enterprise storage has come a long way in the past few decades. The evolution from local storage with high-end raid cards to storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) has become more practical and affordable with the new compression and deduplication techniques being utilized. This evolution has been industry changing and has both driven and been driven by the ever-increasing need for data consumption.

Although many organizations have migrated their workloads and storage needs to the cloud, there are still many instances in which local storage is needed. One of the advantages of cloud storage is the easy scalability. When you need more storage, you simply consume it. There is no need for the large capital expenditures and complexities of purchasing and managing a local SAN device. The cloud storage, however, does come at what can become a hefty recurring operational expenditure as your consumption continues to grow.

The next evolution of storage came along in the form of scale out and software-defined storage (SDS). With this version of storage, commodity servers can be used as storage devices, and expanding the storage is simply a matter of adding another server or adding additional disks to the current servers. The devil, though, is in the details. Many times, these SDS vendors define specific “commodity” servers with very specific and expensive hardware requirements and offer you to purchase preconfigured systems from themselves or their partners. So, what you end up with is an expensive SDS solution from a company that may or may not be around in 10 years and charges you for the raw capacity of your storage along with expensive hardware.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were software which you already paying for to run your workloads that would also include this scale-out and scale-up SDS ability? Apparently, the team at Microsoft was thinking the same thing and, with the release of Windows Server 2016 Datacenter, they provide just that. This operating system already has virtualization included in the software license and the ability to move workloads easily between your local environment and the Azure cloud. Now they have also added what they term as Storage Spaces Direct.

Storage Spaces Direct allows you to use your preferred servers to create a shared-nothing storage pool cluster. Your data is dispersed between the nodes of the cluster with redundancy built in, such that your data cannot only survive single or multiple disk drive failures but also the failure of an entire node. Your purchase of the datacenter licensing allows the use of this feature without any additional charges for raw data capacity. The Windows Datacenter licensing is not inexpensive by any means. However, it does provide you the ability to run as many virtual OS instances as your hardware can handle, in a redundant cluster setup, and now also allows you to utilize SDS storage along with all of the many other features included.

With the addition of Storage Spaces Direct, the latest version of Microsoft’s server operating system is the perfect platform for a private or hybrid cloud environment. If you team up with a trusted colocation provider to manage and host this environment for your organization, you can have a cost-effective solution to run your workloads on a redundant platform in redundant datacenters with little to no management needed from your organization.

Roger Mitan is the director of engineering with BlueBridge Networks, a downtown Cleveland-headquartered data-center and cloud computing business. He can be reached at (216) 621-2583 and rmitan@bbnllc.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roger Mitan, MBA, Director of Engineering with BlueBridge Networks, a downtown Cleveland-headquartered data-center and cloud computing business. He can be reached at (216) 621-2583, rmitan@bbnllc.com and bluebridgenetworks.com.

 

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